Sunday, July 3, 2011

33 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways) Part 1

We don't know about you, but we can't seem to keep up with the spectacular books coming out each week. Read on for what hits shelves this week, author interviews, and a fabulous giveaway!

This Week's Interviews

Lost Voices (Lost Voices (Trilogy)) by Sarah Porter
  • From Goodreads: Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?
How long did you work on this book?
Lost Voices came quite quickly. I started writing it during a period when I was unemployed and a bit discouraged; entering the world of the story every day kept me together. I almost felt like I was under some kind of enchantment, and I wrote the first draft in four intense months. Then there were a few months when I went back to it now and then to make revisions. It was accepted for publication exactly one year after I started writing it!

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Oh, boy. My journey to publication took many, many years. Lost Voices is my first published novel, but it was actually the fourth novel I wrote. The first two were so crazy that now I just think of them as practice novels, but I still love the one I wrote before Lost Voices and I hope it finds a home someday. I lost count of all the rejections a long time ago. Rejections are like popcorn for a writer: you have to just gobble them down and keep going.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Keep reading. Read books that are comfortable for you, but also books that seem a little too challenging or strange. Immerse yourself in other people's imaginary worlds and love them as absolutely as you can. And I'd suggest keeping a completely secret journal. For ten or fifteen minutes every night, write down whatever random, absurd, nonsensical thoughts come into your head; try to write without stopping to think, and without any judgment about whether what you're writing is good or bad or anything else. It's the best way I know to discover all the ideas that we don't even know we have. At first doing this kind of writing feels awkward, but I promise it gets easier!

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Honestly, the biggest surprise is how emotional the process is for me. Of course it's totally exhilarating, but I wasn't really prepared for all the other emotions: nervousness about all the different ways people react to the book, and even some sadness at letting go of my characters and watching them swim out to find their own destinies.

A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone
  • From Goodreads: Rene, an obsessive-compulsive fourteen year old, smells his hands and wears a Batman cape when he’s nervous. If he picks up a face-down coin, moves a muscle when the time adds up to thirteen (7:42 is bad luck because 7 + 4 + 2 = 13), or washes his body parts in the wrong order, Rene or someone close to him will break a bone, contract a deadly virus, and/or die a slow and painful death like someone in a scary scene in scary movie. Rene’s new and only friend tutors him in the art of playing it cool, but that’s not as easy as Gio makes it sound.
How long did you work on this book?
The first draft was surprisingly quick—about six weeks. I started it on a train ride and couldn’t type fast enough. Then next day, I took it with me on a family vacation to Mexico, where I typed at the beach, at the pool, on local sweaty bumpy buses to and from Chichen Itza, on the plane ride home, and then every morning and night until I finished. I spent two months revising it before I sent it off, mumbling a prayer at the mailbox. Editing was slower than I’d imagined, but I enjoyed every step of the process.
How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
You get close to a manuscript. It’s your blood and sweat and tears and time—all that time!—and if you’re lucky, you’ll finish a few drafts and become even closer. You’ll become friends. Not friends of friends or Facebook friends or John McCain’s “(my) friends,” but friends. Real friends. Friends as tight as family. Homies—yup, you and your manuscript become homies.
You know deep down, really deep down (if you dug long enough to reach China) that your homie is only a Microsoft Word file, a stack of paper filled with words, words that make a book—not even a book, almost a book, but it’s your baby, your friend, your homie and though you don’t have a history of ascribing love and friendship to inanimate objects, you can’t help but feel sad and scared and apologetic when you mail it out because you’re tossing your homie into the wild all by himself and suddenly you understand why in Cast Away Tom Hanks screamed “I’M SORRY WILSON! I’M SORRY! WILSON I’M SORRY!” when the current carried his volleyball away.
You take back all the times you’ve mocked that scene when punting a basketball out of your little brother’s reach—“I’M SORRY SPALDING,I’M SO SORRY”—because now your homie is alone and you’re alone and all you can do is wait. If you emailed your materials, your only option is to click “refresh.” You realize that refresh is a terrible word, a truly terrible word to describe what you’re going through because you feel a lot of things, but none of them are refreshment.
You hate yourself for throwing your characters into the wild. (Refresh.) You hate that they’re all alone and buried in a pile of slush. (Refresh.) You picture them slashed and bloody and shredded into a million little pieces. (Refresh.) You feel bad for James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces, for getting spanked by Oprah on national television but you envy him now. (Refresh.) You hate the word “refresh” and hate that you’ve been a sucker for it all your life: soda, slurpies, Gatorade, frozen lemonade—all them tasty but none of them nearly as refreshing as a glass of water. (Refresh.)
But all you can do is wait.
This happened to me. All of it. I didn’t call my manuscript “Wilson,” but it was my buddy. My homie. My pride and joy. You All in the Kool-Aid But You Don’t Know the Flavor was a memoir about my Teach for America experience, from the boot camp of summer Institute to the streets of West Baltimore; from political corruption ($50 million was stolen from the city budget) to crumbling schools (my principal at Frederick Douglass High School changed students’ grades to improve our graduation rate)—things got so bad that HBO spent a year in our school filming Hard Times at Douglass High).
So I was invested. But after three months of revision and three rounds of submission all I had to show for it was a note from my agent that said there was nothing more to do.
A year later, right before that family trip to Mexico, I decided to give it another shot.
Four months later I had a two-book deal.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Momentum is everything. Write every day. I find that if I take days off in the middle of a project, I lose the voices of my characters and am less motivated to push through.
But most importantly, momentum or no momentum, you need to push through your fears. (My worst fear: A mountain of rejection letters piled so high on my desk that if I breath or cough or sigh with enough gusto the entire mountain will collapse on me like an avalanche and crush me and cover me in my own rejections and failures and nobody will hear me scream and I’ll die a slow and painful death, which newspapers will find fascinating and therefore report, on the front page in big bold lettering, “MAN DIES OF FAILURE; NOT HEARTFAILURE, JUST FAILURE”—but since nobody reads newspapers anymore, nobody will hear about it until Comedy Central gets its hands on the story and Steven Colbert proclaims, with a wag of the finger, “Nation, I thought Bill O’Reilly was a loser, a real Loserasaurus [audience cheers]. . . I did, I really did, but then, Nation, [Colbert chuckles], but then I heard of Matt Blackstone,” as the audience, howling like hyenas, chants his name instead of mine:“Ste-ven. Ste-ven, Ste-ven . . .”)
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
How helpful and friendly and giving other authors are. I pictured them being cutthroat. In my experience, it’s been the opposite. 
  • From Goodreads: Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.
How long did you work on this book?
The first draft took just under four months. I tend to be very, very quick. Not always good, and certainly not perfect, but quick. This is especially shocking to many given the fact that I teach full time and I’m a mom of two young girls. Anyway, I picked at the manuscript on my own for a while, but then I needed feedback. Since I don’t have a writer’s group, I had to wait for friends to read and comment. The best early feedback was from my author friend Kim Ablon Whitney, who really made me rethink the character. (Apparently, Ophelia wasn’t very likeable or introspective enough in early versions. She and her friends also kept sounding like they were from the 1600s.) Once I found my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, we worked on revisions for about three months. Then my editor, Alvina Ling, and her team asked for revisions, and then the copywriters had questions and fixes to make. All together that took another year. Start to finish I worked on the manuscript for three years. Interestingly, I was done with all revisions and checks almost a year before the publishing date.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Long and short. The long part was getting rejected by over twenty agents. That really hurt. I thought of giving up many times along the way, and actually moved on and began two other manuscripts, one of which I finished. I also decided to give up on writing a few times, but I was drawn back to it on my own when I wasn’t being nudged and shoved by friends and my husband. Eventually I prevailed. The short part came once I found my agent, Joan. She sold it at auction in around six weeks. I know she was told no by a few houses, but I’ve kind of blocked it out. I do recall being worried enough to ask after the first few no’s if it was time to worry. She assured me it was too soon. She was right.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write to make yourself happy. It’s a long and lonely process that can come with heartbreak and endless waiting, so if the writing part isn’t reward enough, I imagine that would make it harder. You’ve got to write while you’re waiting, and you’ve got to write what interests you. If vampires or zombies or shoe shopping or tea parties aren’t your thing, don’t force yourself to write that. But keep working on something that is a joy to create.
Find people you trust to share your writing and to tell the truth. When you’re down about a plot point or about being rejected, it’s helpful to have people who will listen. Only recently have I begun meeting writers, and I turn to them a bit now. They’re a great source of information, encouragement and sympathy. But I’m most comfortable with friends who have no vested interest in my success or failure and who will love me even if the writing thing poops out.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
The fact that I am a published writer. Every bit of this has surprised me. I used to get nauseous in bookstores from wanting to see my own book on the shelves and now it’s happened. That’s insane. Having people ask for my advice is really incredible, too, because I’m still learning about the business and about writing. Also, being able to walk into my publisher’s building hasn’t lost its appeal. I’ve met with my editor a few times and when I get let through security and see the halls lines with book covers, I get short of breath. It’s magnificent fun. There are things that have been frustrating and confusing and disappointing along the way, but I keep reminding myself that this is new and wonderful, and that I never thought any of it would happen so I should appreciate the gifts this book has brought.

The Joshua Files: Ice Shock by M.G. Harris
  • From Goodreads: Josh is back home, trying to resume his normal life and make sense of his Mayan adventures. But soon it becomes clear that being back in Oxford doesn't mean Josh can escape his destiny. He's evenmore certain now that his father's death was no accident - and he's starting to wonder if he can really trust his closest allies. But when he finds out a shocking secret, that's when the real adventure begins...
How long did you work on this book?
Producing the manuscript for ICE SHOCK was both the most painful and speediest writing experience I've ever had! It was the 2nd book of a pretty substantial two-book, debut deal for THE JOSHUA FILES. But after signing with the UK publisher, I was overcome with terror that I wouldn't ever write a second publishable manuscript. So to counteract that anxiety, I woke at 5am every morning and wrote like crazy. The first draft was finished in just over two months.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Short and fortunate! I started writing in 2005 whilst recuperating from a broken leg. Wrote a techno-thriller for adults, had eight rejections and decided to start a new book. By the end of that year I had an agent, who asked me to completely revise the manuscript I'd shown him for a middle-grade adventure novel. . After nine months my agent was handling multiple offers from UK publishers for a series for young teens: The Joshua Files.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Gosh there's so much! Study the craft of writing, I guess, is the main thing. And research your prospective agent as much as possible! That's how I got my agent. I spent a whole day focused on finding an agent like him, and another half day devising a strategy to ensure that he would actually read my query and ask for the sample pages.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I was concentrating on breaking into UK children's fiction, so I didn't think about foreign sales. What happens when your books sell abroad - that's where I've been most surprised. Just which countries have taken to The Joshua Files and which haven't - completely unpredictable, to me at least! For example, the series is doing well in Eastern Europe and Asia, including Indonesia judging by the number of Joshua-related Indonesian tweets. But Germany, where the publisher was initially very enthusiastic, never really took off!

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick
  • From Goodreads: Some secrets are better left buried; some secrets are so frightening they might make angels weep and the devil crow. Thought provoking as well as intensely scary, White Crow unfolds in three voices. There's Rebecca, who has come to a small, seaside village to spend the summer, and there's Ferelith, who offers to show Rebecca the secrets of the town...but at a price. Finally, there's a priest whose descent into darkness illuminates the girls' frightening story. White Crow is as beautifully written as it is horrifically gripping.
How long did you work on this book?
It's hard to say how long it takes to write a book. I'm a fast writer when I actually get in front of the computer, so that may have been around a couple of months, but I spend a long time thinking about a book first, I think a year or so for White Crow.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
It took me about four years to get published, in the UK, back in 2000. I wrote four novels that have never appeared, during that time, and I got an agent on the strength of the middle two of those four. Then she sold my fifth book to my UK publisher ORION, where I still am today.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Too much! Don't do it! ;-) Do it! Enjoy it. Remember what excites you about writing. Don't expect to get rich quick. Write for yourself, not for what you think other people might want... I could go on and on and....

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
What has surprised me most? This: I thought writing books would get easier with each one. It doesn't! It just gets...different...

Additional Releases
Pretty Little Liars #9: Twisted by Sara Shepard
  • From Goodreads: It’s been a year since the torturous notes from A stopped and the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis’s disappearance was finally put to rest. Now seniors in high school, Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily are older, but they’re not any wiser. The Pretty Little Liars have more secrets than ever - twisted secrets that could destroy the perfect lives they’ve worked so hard to rebuild. Aria’s jealous of her boyfriend’s new exchange student. Spencer’s getting a little too cozy with her soon-to-be-stepbrother. Hanna’s one scandalous photo away from ruining her dad’s Senate campaign. And Emily will do anything to get a swim scholarship. Worst of all: Last spring break in Jamaica, they did something unforgivable. The girls are desperate to forget that fateful night, but they should know better than anyone that all secrets wash ashore … eventually.

Now Is the Time for Running by Michael Williams
  • From Goodreads: Just down the road from their families, Deo and his friends play soccer in the dusty fields of Zimbabwe, cheered on by Deo's older brother, Innocent. It is a day like any other . . . until the soldiers arrive and Deo and Innocent are forced to run for their lives, fleeing the wreckage of their village for the distant promise of safe haven. Along the way, they face the prejudice and poverty that await refugees everywhere, and must rely on the kindness of people they meet to make it through. But when tragedy strikes, Deo's love of soccer is all he has left. Can he use that gift to find hope once more?
Shadow Grail #2: Conspiracies by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
  • From Goodreads: Spirit and her friends Burke, Loch, Muirin, and Addie have managed to defeat the evil force that has been killing students at Oakhurst Academy for the past forty years—or so they think. When a series of magical attacks disrupts the school, Doctor Ambrosius calls upon alumnus Mark Rider to secure the campus—and start training the students for war. The only student without magic, Spirit doesn’t trust Mark or his methods. She knows that Oakhurst isn’t safe. And if Spirit and her friends want to live long enough to graduate, they have to find out what is really going on—before it’s too late.
Giveaway

We hope you'll enter to win one of these sparkly prizes-- LOST VOICES, A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE, and FALLING FOR HAMLET . All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and fill out the form below. The contest is open to US residents!

Happy reading,
The Ladies of ACP


33 comments:

  1. Fabulous! So many great sounding books! :) Thanks for the tips

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  2. I love retellings. Falling for Hamlet sounds great!

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  3. I am really excited to read Lost Voices and Falling for Hamlet. Thanks for hosting this giveaway again this week!

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  4. Falling for Hamlet sounds really interesting - I hope it's as much fun as it sounds.

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  5. Totally want to read Lost Voices, but the others sound really interesting as well!

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  6. Shadow Grail #2 Conspiracies looks amazing. I should read the first book.

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  7. Lost Voices looks awesome! thanks for the chance!

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  8. Lots of great sounding books hope I can win. thanks

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  9. I am really looking forward to Lost Voices. I have yet to read any of the new mermaid books that have come out recently, but I am pretty sure I will enjoy this one.

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  10. So excited for Falling For Hamlet! Thanks!

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  11. All these books look SO good! :) I hope I win something!

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  12. Great interviews. I'm looking forward to Falling for Hamlet.

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  13. Really great interviews. It's great to know the authors story about his or her story.

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  14. Thanks for the interviews! I loooove mermaid stories, so I wrote down Lost Voices. Thanks!

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  15. I love pretty little liars. Thanks for another great giveaway with awesome authors.

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  16. Victoria ZumbrumJuly 3, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Thanks for the giveaway. Lots books I would love to read. Tore923@aol.com

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  17. ohh Falling for Hamlet looks good! I cannot wait to read that one.

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  18. Thanks again! Another great week :)

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  19. Falling for Hamlet sounds awesome! So does Lost Voices, love mermaid books :)

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  20. What a great group of books....YA writers are so cool! Readers too!

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  21. I love reading the interviews because there are so many great things to learn about the authors!

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  22. I cant wait!!! So many great books!!

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  23. Awesome! Lots of sequels and great sounding books! Happy 4th!

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  24. uuu.... lots of awesome books! such a great month :) thanks for the interviews!

    Diana

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  25. I can't believe how many great books are coming out!!!!

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  26. Amazing work here! Congrats to all of the authors!

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  27. A Scary Scene... and Falling for Hamlet sound GREAT! Would love to read both of them. :)

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  28. Falling for Hamlet is one I've been looking forward to since I first heard about it.

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  29. Lost Voices sounds sooo good. I'm really enjoying all of the mermaid books that have been coming out lately. =)

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  30. All of the books look great. Love the interviews.

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  31. This was so chock full of great info for writers!

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  32. So many fantastic books coming out this week. Thanks for the contest!

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  33. haha I love how long winded matt was

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Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)